It only took a little over 50 years, but fans have almost unanimously agreed that the we have finally found the perfect onscreen Spider-Man in Tom Holland. The young British actor’s portrayal of the beloved webslinger in the MCU is considered the most accurate to the original creation by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee for Marvel Comics in 1962.
This claim, in many ways, comes as a comparison to previous cinematic iterations of Spidey which fans have been famously critical of, such as Tobey Maguire being a little too old and a bit not quippy enough for the teenage superhero, and Andrew Garfield’s interpretation being a little “too cool for school” for the famously average and geeky Peter Parker. Yet, Tom Holland’s performance has managed to be a perfect marriage of everything that historically defines the character… well, almost everything.
As we all know, to keep the gears of its overarching narrative cranking cohesively as well setting itself apart from previous adaptations, the MCU likes to play loose with the rules, and Spider-Man is certainly no exception. What sort of things make Tom Holland’s Peter Parker different from his comic book counterpart?
Spider-Man Gets His Suit From Tony Stark
Comic book lore implies that Peter Parker constructed the old red and blues he throws on to become his alter ego himself as a means to prevent anyone else from figuring out his secret identity. Yet, in Captain America: Civil War, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) figures out that the kid is Spider-Man and equips him with an upgrade to his ski-mask, goggles, and sweat-suit combo for the iconic design, decked out with cutting edge technology.
Full disclosure: Tony Stark building a Spidey suit (especially a technologically advanced one) is not a concept that is entirely original to the MCU, as the Iron Spider suit (which would make its debut in Spider-Man: Homecoming) was a gift from the tech-billionaire to Peter Parker in the comics. However, Stark plays a far more crucial and influential role in Spider-Man’s career as a crimefighter, not just by inventing his signature uniform or the technology that allows him to create a revamped suit from scratch in Spider-Man: Far From Home, but also by serving as a much-needed father figure.
Aunt May Drank From The Fountain Of Youth
Another way that Tony Stark affects Peter Parker is by his discomforting reminder of how attractive his aunt and adoptive mother, May Parker, is. Played by Academy Award-winner Marisa Tomei, Aunt May is often cited by adult, male onlookers as “hot,” much to Peter’s chagrin, which is a new side of the character we have never in the comics as the MCU’s version of May is unlike any we have ever seen either.
Traditionally, Aunt May is an elderly woman of, at least, 65 years with gray hair often put into a ponytail and clothes that you have probably seen your grandmother wear, while the MCU reimagines her in her early 50s with long, free-flowing black hair who has been known to sport tank tops or T-shirts from time to time. It is an intriguing update in the character’s mythology, especially following Rosemary Harris’ ripped-from-the-pages depiction in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy and the darker hair color being the biggest difference of Sally Field’s iteration in The Amazing Spider-Man films. However, no one is going to fight any reason to have Marisa Tomei on the screen, so it is no sweat of off any Spidey purist’s back.
Peter Parker Is No Photographer
Peter Parker has the easiest job in the world of taking pictures of his own alter ego for his local newspaper, The Daily Bugle. It is a brilliant utilization of his own dual identity and eye for the picturesque.
Yet, that aspect of Spider-Man’s mythology is missing from the MCU, supposedly because Tom Holland’s iteration is a bit too young to be working for that industry this day and age and he already spends enough of his solo films being reprimanded by the likes of Tony Stark, Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), and even Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to face the cruety of Daily Bugle editor-in-chief J. Jonah Jameson. It was a pleasant surprise to see J.K. Simmons return as Jameson in Spider-Man: Far From Home, however, even if he was reimagined as a conspiracy theorist vlogger (which, again, is a justifiable change).
Spider-Man’s Rogues Gallery Is Comparatively Subtler
Like most supervillains, the baddies that Spider-Man tends to bump heads with have, to borrow from Batman Begins, “a taste for the theatrical,” meaning they incorporate whatever theme their persona or ability reflects into their outfit of choice. For instance, the Shocker dresses in yellow and red with large, high-voltage fists and the Vulture wears a giant, green bird suit that allows him to fly. Both of these villains are actually in Spider-Man: Homecoming but, outside of the fandom of eagle-eyed moviegoers, you probably would not know that unless I told you.
With the exception of Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio who is all about showing off, the adversaries that Spider-Man faces in the MCU, very smartly, prefer to keep a low profile to the outside world as well as the viewers, only resembling their comic book counterparts in subtle ways. Instead of a large bird costume, Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) uses mechanical, non-feathered wings to maintain stealth during robberies and Herman Schultz (Bokeem Woodbine) loved his shocking modified gauntlets, but not enough to build a flashy costume to match. These methods make Spidey’s antagonists some of the more cleverly depicted in superhero movies.
Peter Parker Has A Different MJ
When it comes to romance, Peter Parker has most famously been associated with red-haired Mary Jane Watson (played by Kirsten Dunst in Sam Raimi’s trilogy), even though most people seem to forget that his original love interest was Liz Allan (reimagined as Liz Toomes and played by Laura Harrier in Spider-Man: Homecoming) and his first true love was the ill-fated Gwen Stacy (played by Emma Stone in The Amazing Spider-Man films and voiced by Hailee Steinfeld as Spider-Gwen in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse). However, Tom Holland’s Peter finds romance with neither of these women (despite a homecoming date with Liz that ends pre-maturely), but instead a character who is unique to the MCU.
Peter Parker and his high school crush Michelle Jones (Zendaya) shared their first kiss in Spider-Man: Far From Home after she discovers he is secretly the webslinger, solidifying her as his true cinematic romance. Of course, given her initials, this still means that Peter’s relationship with “M.J.” technically transcends the comic books into the MCU, but without red hair, playfully referring to Spider-Man as “tiger,” and the fact that this M.J. has a bit of morbid curiosity, this is definitely a major change to canon.